Integrated waste management systems provide well established good practice solutions in the EU for dealing with mixed waste streams and innovative LIFE TCY techniques have been used by Egyptian city councils to help build their solid waste management capacities.
Al Fayoum and Etsa are two neighbouring municipality areas in the Sahara desert. Residents in both areas have suffered from inadequate waste management systems and environmental risks were increasing as a result of capacity problems with municipal waste collection services, limited scope of desert dump sites and the increase in uncontrolled solid waste disposal.
A local public utility support firm, AWW Consulting Engineers, was keen to tackle these environmental issues and so joined forces with German partners in a bid to improve the municipalities waste management capacities. LIFE TCY funds were secured for an Integrated Solid Waste Management project which had objectives to identify and implement tailor made waste management solutions that could be replicated in other Egyptian cities.
Both councils were aware that street foragers already undertook a degree of informal waste recovery, and so it was agreed to try and formalise this arrangement. Attempts to organise the street foragers were not considered an effective option, but it was agreed that the effectiveness of the foraging activity would be greatly assisted if domestic waste could be separated into recyclable and materials. The public sector could then concentrate on collecting only non-recyclable solid waste, and the street foragers (private sector) would continue to recover and treat the recyclable waste.
Two different coloured waste bags were produced for the pilot initiative and the LIFE team knew that its success depended on a comprehensive awareness raising programme. Households and businesses would need to understand why to recycle, as well as how and what to separate in their domestic waste. Similarly, the foragers would need to know which bags to collect and from where. The latter was considered to be more straight-forward than the former, and so considerable efforts were applied to raising general awareness about the benefits of the new multi-bag SWM scheme.
The pilot project proved a success and led to reduced waste management demands for the municipalities. Long term legacies look good for the LIFE project, since the households and businesses are still separating their waste and the street foragers know where to find the recyclable waste. The project confirmed that up to 90 percent of residents were willing to pay a fee (4-5 Egyptian pounds each month) for a regular waste collection service and clean areas around their bins. Such income sources provide a useful incentive to help municipalities sustain the SWM concept.
Outcomes, benefits and methods from this LIFE TCY project offer good demonstration value for similar regions and more information about ISoWa activities, including the municipalities technical training in recycling, landfill and waste collection system skills, are featured on the LIFE99 TCY/ET/072 project website.